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Home Blog New Innovations in Seasonal Floral Design: A Conversation with Holly Chapple
August 9th 2018

New Innovations in Seasonal Floral Design: A Conversation with Holly Chapple

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Floret

Every Saturday of the summer, couples across the country will say “I do” while holding fresh flowers that were grown with love and harvested by hand from a local flower farm or a designer’s own cutting garden. Previously confined to forward-thinking designers and farmer-florists, the concept of incorporating local, seasonal blooms into one of life’s biggest celebrations is much more mainstream these days, thankfully. From big city soirees to the smallest, most intimate ceremonies, seasonal blooms are part of celebrations in many meaningful and creative ways.

I recently reached out to some of the most talented floral designers in the industry to discuss new ways they’re incorporating local flowers into their work. Today, I’m re-connecting with Holly Chapple to chat about seasonal floral design and her new product line which is transforming the way local flowers can be incorporated into special events.  [Read more about Holly in my previous Farmer & the Florist Interview].  

But first, a little bit about Holly if you aren’t already familiar with her work: Holly is one of the most influential designers and instructors in the floral industry. She creates gorgeous floral designs for hundreds of elegant weddings in the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area as well as numerous destination weddings each year. Her work is regularly featured in major bridal magazines, and she is renowned for her ingenious armatures and mechanics used to support large-scale floral installations.

A gifted gardener and passionate supporter of the seasonal flower movement, Holly regularly incorporates foliage and flowers from her own cutting garden into her designs and also offers a “From the Garden” bouquet package to her clients wanting seasonal blooms. Holly has taught floral and event design workshops all over the world and is currently working on a comprehensive online design course that is sure to be incredible.  

In 2015, Holly and her husband Evan opened Hope, a flower farm which also serves as a beautiful bed & breakfast and event center for Holly’s many design workshops as well as an annual retreat for designers, Flowerstock.

Photo by Abby Jiu

Holly has always been on the cutting edge of design, but her latest innovation is poised to totally transform the floral design industry.

Here’s the backstory: Florists have been using flower foam to create floral designs for decades. These dense green bricks of foam hold water, provide support to stems, and serve as the base for bouquets in shallow vases or bowls. But foam has fallen out of favor with many designers for lots of good reasons. First and foremost, foam creates a lot of waste that cannot be composted and doesn’t decompose. In addition to not being very environmentally friendly, another big detractor is the fact that foam makes bouquets look excessively formal and “stiff.” Plus, some flowers, including many of the more delicate seasonal blooms, don’t last long when inserted into foam or can’t be inserted into foam at all because their hollow stems become clogged, impeding water uptake.

The shift towards loose, organic bouquet shapes using seasonal flowers has meant that many designers, myself included, typically use chicken wire in the base of vases, compotes, urns and other vessels (like this edible infused bouquet) instead of foam in order to provide support for the stems. For years, cutting chicken wire and crumpling it up to insert it into compotes has been part of the process of creating bouquets, including virtually every design featured in Cut Flower Garden. Until now.

Holly has partnered with Syndicate Sales to manufacture a lightweight, reusable plastic armature, called a “pillow,” that fits into compotes and other vases. This ingenious product provides similar stem support as chicken wire, but without hurting your hands with the time-consuming task of cutting and shaping wire. This is, no question, the best new product on the market for floral designers. Goodbye foam and so long cutting chicken wire. Hello, fast, easy, natural looking arrangements!

The flowers “live longer and respond better directly to water. Foam actually blocks the stem and reduces water flow. We are no longer fighting to insert stems into the foam,” Holly explained. “Stems that typically wilt are holding happily directly in water.”

The pillow has changed the way Holly and her team deliver, install and re-water centerpieces for big events. She also notes that the pillow has the potential to totally transform daily floral deliveries from traditional flower shops. Consumers will be able to “easily refresh the water without destroying the design,” she noted, “plus direct access to clean water will prolong the overall vase life of the flowers.”

Photo by Sarah Collier

Holly’s other new innovation is an armature called an “egg” which provides support for flower stems in wide, organic handheld bouquets and other cascading shapes. The image above utilizes the armature to support fresh flowers harvested from Holly’s farm.

To check out Holly’s complete collection of design mechanics and supplies, be sure to see the Syndicate catalog (Note: Holly’s “egg” and “pillow” design mechanics come in cases of 12 and are available exclusively through wholesale floral supply distributors).

With the introduction of these new mechanics, Holly is literally reshaping the seasonal flower movement with her unmatched ingenuity and design expertise.

Learn more & connect with Holly:

Holly Heider Chapple 
Holly Heider Chapple Collection from Syndicate 
Learn with Holly 
Hope Flower Farm

10 Comments

  1. Ann on

    I love this! Where can I but the pillows and eggs? I visited all the links and cannot find anywhere to order. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  2. Kelli, Heron House Flowers on

    Larysa, Iris Barn, and I bought every size from our local wholesaler and the pillows and eggs are fantastic. They range from $2-4 each and are reusable. Holly is a genius! Love the pillows and eggs!

    Reply
  3. Anne on

    Sad to see the innovation is still made of plastic. Hoping they at least get reused many times before being trashed.

    Reply
  4. Mary Schlotter on

    Holly is amazing I could go on all day about my admiration for her as a designer, inventor, her farm…..she’s a mother of 7 children! She has so much energy!!! I raised 4 children while working two jobs , thankfully now just my florals! It’s not easy. I am growing some of my flowers in every space I can, I love and subscribe to this movement of local, loose foam free design . I am greatful for people like Holly and you Erin ( great book by the way!)

    Reply
  5. Sharla on

    Kim, please be patient and keep trying! It is so hard to keep up with the plantings, weeds, marketing and sales without staff, overhead etc! As always THANK yoou Erin for your information. I’m not a fan of plastic but can see Holly’s invention is a great alternative and so much more user friendly. I think I will place an order for my Farmer’s Market booth!

    Reply
  6. Kate Snapp on

    While I appreciate Holly’s designs, the addition of her plastic mechanic is not an economic or environmental solution to floral foam. I recently took a class on using these mechanics and found that ordinary chicken wire worked significantly better, was less expensive and not made of plastic. The egg and pillow made arrangements unsteady and the companion vases & bowls did not provide enough water for flowers to survive more than a few hours. Water source is a primary issue for flowers. I appreciate you posting about Holly’s design and innovation, but I believe there is a better solution to the delicate/hollow stems problem – and the answer isn’t more plastic. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Julie Engelman on

    We’ve started using Holly’s eggs and pillows in our loose wedding bouquets at Twigs & Blooms and it has changed everything – it’s like having an additional pair of hands while making a bouquet!
    Wonderful invention. The flower world thanks you Holly!

    Reply
  8. Alison Ellis on

    This is awesome! Holly really is reshaping the floral world with her egg mechanic! xoxo.

    Reply
  9. Kim on

    I absolutely love this blog post. But I have tried two ways in my local area to incorporate local flowers into our upcoming wedding in September and it’s been disappointing so far. Please let me explain why, first I went to a local florist and none of them were incorporating local flowers into their businesses. I went to an independent floral designer that does not have a retail shop hoping for a different perspective and she told me she did at one time but the reliability from the during weddings was so lacking that she couldn’t depend on them. She said the first problem was she would call for availability and sometimes they weren’t working that day or they wouldn’t get back to her. That their sole focus was farmers market and supplying local florists for weddings was too much hassle for the local flower grower. Has anyone experienced this?

    I did call on my own a local floral grower that has a good website and a calendar of availability in what month of the year and I’ve called her twice now and she hasn’t got back to me and our wedding is in September. I’d like to support her business but so far our local flower farmers here don’t seem to care much about supplying for weddings. I know there are many local flower farmers that do but in our area, we don’t seem to have any interested.

    Reply
  10. Barbara Smith on

    What flowers can you grow that you can use in arrangments

    Reply

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